There’s a common sentiment that the Xbox One is at a loss for games. Whether that’s true or not, at the very least, they’re losing this generation when it comes to indie gaming. The company that once brought us Limbo, Castle Crashers, and Braid is now lagging in third place behind Sony and Nintendo. There is one game that could turn their fortunes around, if only it every releases. That game is Cuphead.
Cuphead debuted at E3 2014 during Microsoft’s press conference, but wasn’t playable to the public. Developer Studio MDHR started development in 2010, and the three man team has been dealing with multiple delays ever since. As a result, Cuphead is shown at every big Microsoft event as one of the platform’s few big indie games.
The Xbox One is lagging behind sales of the PlayStation 4, and the Nintendo Switch is already hot on the heels of both consoles. In fact, Nintendo is setting the perfect road map for Microsoft to follow, if they want to erase the perception that they don’t have many games to offer. With the exception of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Switch has relied entirely on indie games to keep it going.
In lieu of much traditional first party support, Microsoft should try to sign as many independent developers as possible. Sony snapped up Hideo Kojima with the speed of Usain Bolt riding on a cheetah, and that’s the kind of thing Microsoft should be doing. Indie games are relatively cheap, meaning they don’t cost a lot for the end user, for Microsoft to sign a deal for, and a lot more of them can be signed. There’s also a wide variety of genres available. If there’s one thing Microsoft has had to deal with since the Xbox’s inception, it’s a lack of variety with their games.
That is exactly what Microsoft did last night with their E3 press conference. They showcased a ton of indie games, including several exclusives. They started with the most popular indie game going right now, PlayerUnknown Battleground. After that, the flood gates opened with The Darwin Project, The Artful Escape, Tacoma, Ashen, and Deep Rock: Galactic to name only a few.
Cuphead was Microsoft’s only indie project for several years in a row. Because of this, you can see how that game inspired Microsfot moving forward. Microsoft went all in on indies this year, and we can only assume that’s because they love Cuphead.
Studio MDHR likely never intended their game to be Microsoft’s indie savior, but that’s how it happened. All they need to worry about is making the best game possible, and hitting their September release date. Delays have struck development like a bad cold, but that hasn’t put off Microsoft it seems.
The early reviews and previews for Cuphead have been positive ever since it first debuted. For whatever reason, Microsoft is only just not putting one and two together. Microsoft showed at their conference that indie games are the future of the Xbox One. Cuphead will be the game leading that charge, but it has exclusives like Tacoma and Super Lucky’s Tale right behind it. Already these games are providing a great deal of variety to a console many say is nothing but a shooter game machine, and that is almost as invaluable as the games themselves.
We can only assume that Cuphead’s favorable previews drove Microsoft to seek more indie developers. Or maybe all their years of watching them prosper on the PC finally gave them some ideas. Either way, the future of the Xbox One is looking a lot brighter than it did 24 hours ago, and we now have a true third competitor in the indie games console market.